Champs-Elysees Film Festival Fosters Franco-American Ties

This year’s sixth Champs-Elysees Film Festival (June 15-22) will screen 80 films, including 12 feature films and 20 shorts in competition. The main novelties include a new competitive section for French films and a separate jury for shorts.

The fest has further reinforced its industry activities in the context of the fourth edition of Paris Coproduction Village (June 20-22) and the U.S. in Progress pix-in-post sidebar, a bi-annual film event organized jointly by the Champs-Elysees fest and the New Horizons Assn. since 2011.

“It’s been a wonderful journey to date,” says fest director Sophie Dulac. “The event has been embraced in Paris, by both audiences and industry professionals. It exudes the glamour of an event like Cannes, against the backdrop of one of the world’s most iconic boulevards.”

The festival showcases independent films from America and France in some of Paris’ finest theaters, including the UGC George V and Gaumont Ambassade. All competition films are Parisian premieres, and overall the fest includes seven world premieres of French and U.S. films.

“French audiences love American movies,” says Dulac. “But distributors only tend to release blockbusters, since we don’t have a co-production agreement. Our festival is a great opportunity for audiences to discover new films.”

This year’s guests of honor are U.S. helmers Jerry Schatzberg and Alex Ross Perry, French directing duo Arnaud & Jean-Marie Larrieu, actor Claude Brasseur, with Senegalese-born French actress, Aissa Maiga as a special guest.

Perry has also selected 11 films for a Carte Blanche sidebar and seven films will screen in a special section dedicated to New Orleans.

The nine-person main jury has joint U.S. and French presidents: U.S. helmer Randal Kleiser and French writer Pierre Lemaitre (“Au Revoir la Haut”).

French actor Louis-Do de Lencquesaing (“The Dancer”) presides over the five-person short jury.

Dulac aims to increase audience participation in this year’s event and for the first time the opening and closing parties, in the Petit Palais and Salons France-Amériques, are open to the general public.

Throughout the week, festival goers can mingle on the Festival Rooftop, overlooking the Arc de Triomphe, as part of the music program.

Dulac says she’s delighted with the official competition and believes that the new French competition will increase the fest’s audiences, which she expects to exceed 25,000 spectators this year.

The six French films will also be screened later this year in the Chicago, New York and New Orleans film festivals, with support from Gallic promo org Unifrance.

The fourth Paris Co-production Village is managed by Les Arcs European Film Festival and serves as a companion forum to its European mini-mart in December.

The Village selects projects looking for French co-producers and is attended by around 200 industry professionals, including France’s leading sales agents and independent distributors.
This year 12 projects have been selected, including five from Asia, two from North America, one from South Africa and one from Israel.

Titles include “Amparo,” by Colombia’s Simon Mesa Soto, whose “Leidi” won the Short Film Palme d’Or in Cannes 2014 and “Sounds of Animals Fighting” by South Africa’s Sibs Shongwe-La Mer (“Necktie Youth”).

“Projects really benefit from this event,” says Jeremy Zelnik, a coordinator of the Village. “Many of Europe’s top sales agents and distributors are based in France. We have a good support system for minority co-productions, including the CNC’s cinémas du monde and support from the Ile de France region.”

This year the Village includes a country focus on Taiwan, following those for Colombia and Brazil in the previous two editions, including three case studies of French-Taiwanese co-productions, such as “The Road to Mandalay.”

The U.S. in Progress sidebar will screen five rough cuts — including “Human Affairs” by Charlie Birns and “The Pervert” by Jack Dunphy and Nathan Silver — that compete for a post-production, acquisition and promotional support award.

Co-organizers Chantal Lian and Marie Zeniter say the sidebar plays a key role in showcasing upcoming U.S. indie talent: “It enables European sales agents to discover up-and-coming American indie filmmakers who otherwise might take years to spot, people like Hannah Fidell, Matt Porterfield, Gabe Klinger, Nathan Silver, Mike Ott, Onur Tukel and Joshua Z. Weinstein.”

“We expect record attendance for this year’s fest and Industry Week,” conclude Lian and Zeniter. “We’re hoping for meaningful networking, deals agreed during or after the festival, new talent revealed — and above all that people have a great time, in such an exceptional location in the heart of Paris.”

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